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  • 2011 Sermon Archive
    Title Filter Display 5 10 15 20 25 30 50 100 All 31 That lovin feeling September 4 2011 Nancy Cocks 32 He can t mean that September 11 2011 Nancy Cocks 33 First last or lasting September 18 2011 Nancy Cocks 34 The Authority to Change your Mind September 25 2011 Nancy Cocks 35 His Own October 2 2011 Nancy Cocks 36 In whose image October 16 2011 Nancy

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  • A Labour of Love
    offer some service to the master but no longer would a lash enforce the work and some wages would be paid for service rendered So Paul appeals to his good friend Philemon to receive Onesimus in this new status no longer as slave but as a brother a brother in Christ and someone who belonged to the family In a sense Paul invites Philemon to recognize the humanity in his slave rather than the property But Paul s appeal is not just about an idea that slaves have human dignity too No Paul s appeal comes straight from heart His letter begins with great thankfulness for Philemon for his friendship to Paul and his faithfulness to Christ It is probably the warmest and most personal opening to any of Paul s letters So we know Philemon was a dear dear friend But Paul goes on to echo the same deep affection for Onesimus the young runaway slave Paul speaks with the affection of a father for a cherished son It s not just respect Paul hopes to awaken in Philemon s heart but love I am sending my own heart back to you Welcome him as you would welcome me Paul s letter is a labour of love It sounds like any parent sending a child off to school with a plea to an old friend to keep an eye out for that child Paul s plea draws on an old relationship of affection commitment hoping against hope to open the heart of his old friend to a youngster in a vulnerable position Onesimus is like a home child and Paul hopes Philemon will adopt him into the family not just give him a few lashes and put him back to work Now Paul s concern for Onesimus is worth noting Because Paul s impassioned plea this labour of love on behalf of a runaway slave foreshadows something Roman historians noted centuries ago As the Christian movement grew Christians were known to advocate for better treatment of slaves Christians like Paul felt deeply for the poorest of the poor those people whom others treated like dirt Christians were critical of brutal punishment for slaves and the common practice of splitting up slave families selling children off separately from their parents In his letter Paul is appealing to a fellow Christian to change his heart toward a slave who had been baptized But Christians didn t limit their concern to slaves who were Christians or slave owners who were part of the church Eventually Christians would advocate for the abolition of slavery though the achievement of this goal would be many centuries in the making This stand did not endear Christians to Roman authorities but it became a noteworthy characteristic of the early Church compassion expressed to those on the very fringes of society So what do we make of Paul s plea for Onesimus and this early Christian advocacy for slaves For me this week it set the lack of

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  • Faith Under Construction
    which followers of Jesus have travelled in 2000 years He roots our faith in God in the experience of wonder wonder at the beauty of the world its place in the galaxy our place in that galaxy things that make physicists wonder too Cox offers this vignette on Albert Einstein a physicist at least as famous as Stephen Hawking In 1930 a Jewish rabbi asked Einstein if he believed in God Here s how Einstein responded The most beautiful emotion we can experience is the mysterious It is the fundamental emotion that stands at the cradle of all true art and science The one to whom this emotion is a stranger who can no longer wonder and stand rapt in awe is as good as dead a snuffed out candle To sense that behind anything that can be experienced there is something that our mind cannot grasp whose beauty and sublimity reaches us only indirectly this is religiousness In this sense and in this sense only I am a devoutly religious man While not exactly a confession of faith Einstein s words express the same impulse that resonates in our Psalm today Pondering the wonders of the visible world the Psalmist can only give glory to the source of all that is something someone much greater more mysterious than words can fully express If Stephen Hawking bothered to ponder ancient poetry he might see that such words are not competing with science The psalms and stories of ancient people give voice to the wonder of which Einstein speaks and the trust that within the beauty and mystery of the world there is personal meaning and purpose which help us live in right relationship with that world We meet God in our personal encounters with this mystery and meaning So Harvey Cox sets out to explore how people who have met God have then constructed their faith over the centuries It is not a simple road map Looking back from the end of his career at Harvard Cox names several crucial discoveries made in the last 50 years since he began his work which have challenged him to reconstruct his faith in Christ His book examines the implications of these discoveries for our understanding of God He s also interested in the changes he sees happening among Christians around the world in our generation He finds people now seek an experience of God through spiritual practices not just a set of ideas about God He sees Christians seeking to become followers of the Way of Jesus rather than members of a particular denomination That phrase the Way is the first name Christians took for themselves back in the earliest days of following Jesus It s still a good image for us if we can identify with the sense that the road we take as Jesus followers is always under construction From time to time that road branches out into new territory as the world around us changes challenging us to reflect

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  • Talking Quilts - Marking Alberta Arts Days
    in exhortation the giver in generosity the leader in diligence the compassionate in cheerfulness 9 Let love be genuine hate what is evil hold fast to what is good 10 love one another with mutual affection outdo one another in showing honour 11 Do not lag in zeal be ardent in spirit serve the Lord Talking Quilt 3 A sampler quilt old patterns in new colours Theme quilting creates beautiful new combinations and colours using many old patterns joining gifts old and new in each generation just as the Letter to the Romans pictures Talking Quilt 4 A quilt from everyday life Theme the practicality of quilting using familiar pieces in resourceful ways so that things aren t wasted but find new opportunities to cheer our lives In the Book of Romans Paul invites us to piece together our lives from the gifts God gives us our natural talents and from the practices that mark us as Christians genuine love mutual affection honour and zeal in serving others Some of the gifts we develop in our lives are so practical others make a bold difference when we live them out in spite of what others expect An exercise in the quilting of our lives Each person received a four panel handout two panels offer sketches 2 are blank Ev Kleis described her sketches and the wisdom she has pieced into her life from people and moments she remembers We took a few minutes to fill in the spaces on our handout appreciating people who made an impact on us wisdom we ve cherished that s become a part of us Comforting the World Second Lesson Romans 12 12 18 Rejoice in hope be patient in suffering persevere in prayer 13 Contribute to the needs of the saints extend hospitality to strangers Bless those who persecute you bless and do not curse them 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice weep with those who weep 16 Live in harmony with one another do not be haughty but associate with the lowly do not claim to be wiser than you are 17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil but take thought for what is noble in the sight of all 18 If it is possible so far as it depends on you live peaceably with all 19 Talking Quilt 5 The experience of giving a quilt away Often quilts are sold or auctioned as a way of raising money for a good purpose to share the gift of the quilt with more than one life Our Talking Quilt 6 isn t here today There were actually 8 quilts donated to the Presbytery of Calgary MacLeod about a year ago which were offered in a quilt auction conducted on line Our Presbytery version of E Bay The quilts came from many different hands and even different parts of the world They were auctioned off to help meet the Presbytery s goal of sending 100 000 to Africa through Presbyterian World Service Development The

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  • Plan B
    in plain sight by marrying the daughter of local priest tending his father in law s flocks in the wilderness Moses was keeping a low profile But God had another idea Let s turn this boy into a leader to confront the Egyptian pharaoh and get my people out of slavery and danger Plan B From our story today precious to all Presbyterians for the burning bush at its heart we know Moses wasn t too keen on Plan B But his grudging acceptance of God s new idea for his life made him one of God s most significant servants of all time and gave God s people a chance at new life Plan B A challenge to be sure but a blessing in disguise We could also ask Zacchaeus about Plan B The day he met Jesus he was invited into a new lifestyle a new set of priorities not unlike Anne Lamott Zacchaeus was moved to a level of generosity he d never dreamt of before He raised a lot of eyebrows and so did Jesus Onlookers wondered how Jesus could consort with a tax collector a guy suspect in his own community with a reputation for feathering his own nest at tax payer s expense What s Jesus doing spending time with Zacchaeus Luke includes many stories like this in his Gospel Jesus spending time with people whom nice folks preferred to avoid But you see Jesus embodies God s Plan B for lives that have run aground In fact St Luke believed that the community of Jesus followers is God s Plan B to open up the kingdom of God to people on the fringe Jesus opened the doors on God s grace and mercy for all those whom religious people of his day considered unworthy Jesus insisted in his life and in his death that God s covenant of love and mercy was open to all who would embrace it Jews and Gentiles tax collectors sinners Ann Lamott you and me With God s grace there is always a Plan B No one is written off Everyone is offered a new beginning Now I should tell you I m a Plan B person too Ministry was Plan B for my life First I went through all the preparations got prerequisites scholarships to go to law school and completed one year successfully But I finally had to admit that God was tugging my heart in a different direction Just like that dazzling burning bush God s voice was too persistent for me to ignore forever A few years later a second Plan B took me into teaching and a decade later to Scotland for three years Now Plan B has taken me out of teaching and brought me here much to the surprise of my academic colleagues A friend of mine in Scotland likes to say If you want to make God laugh tell God your plans I d rather say that God opens up

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  • Will that be honey or mustard?
    this gauntlet as he begins to unfold the stories of Jesus life And we must surely come to terms with this point if we want to follow Jesus No one is beyond God s concern no matter how anxious or irritated they make us feel We need to keep this theme in mind when we turn to chapter 17 and the reading set for today Luke has been lining up more ammunition against the Pharisees in the parables of Jesus recorded in chapters 15 16 The lost sheep the lost coin the lost son these parables demonstrate to us how much care God will expend for the least and the lost No amount of trouble is too much trouble for God Then Luke records two parables about financial faithfulness stories in which Jesus urged people to recognize that we can t serve God and wealth at the same time Jesus was puncturing the popular faith of his day People believed that wealth was God s blessing No way argues Jesus Wealth distracts us from loving our neighbours Makes us slaves of the wrong master Luke presents Jesus stories as a challenge to the Pharisees But in chapter 17 we learn that Jesus challenge was almost too much for his own disciples So we d better pay attention too The disciples were people who left everything to follow Jesus just like Levi They weren t judgmental like those Pharisees They were sincere and committed to Jesus So they may have assumed that they were in God s good books Well then says Jesus think about this How do you treat each other when one of you offends or upsets another What do you when you re angry with each other You d better be prepared to sort it out Go to the one who s upset you lay it out on the table And if there s repentance if there s a willingness to repair things then forgive Let it go And if this happens seven times in one day be prepared to forgive seven times the same day Now by this point surely all of us who are brothers sisters parents children husbands wives or neighbours co workers want to say to Jesus You ve got to be kidding Forgive someone seven times in the same day Please Jesus I like to polish my resentments simmer my wounded feelings longer than that A few days a few years at least Jesus you expect too much of us Between verse four and verse five in our reading the disciples must have made some protest like this Told Jesus he was out to lunch Luke puts it a little more politely He says the disciples cried out Lord increase our faith You can t expect so much generosity of heart from us Jesus Such patience such forgiveness can only come from spiritual giants not from ordinary folk like us Picture Jesus shaking his head at this protest If you had faith the

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  • When we don't feel all that thankful
    not feel all that thankful this Thanksgiving What do we do when we don t feel all that thankful Perhaps we should ask Jeremiah Now I don t suppose many of us carry Jeremiah s history in our memories so his provocative preaching may sound very odd Let me tell you a few key things about the time in which he lived Israel was in big trouble as a nation The kings of Israel had chosen Egypt for their ally against the rising power of Babylon and its empire Remember that Babylon with its two ancient rivers the Tigris and the Euphrates was considered the cradle of human civilization Babylon was a military force to be reckoned with too under its king Nebuchadnezzar But Israel chose to forge an alliance with Egypt instead Now God s prophets had warned the kings of Israel for years to pay more attention to God s covenant than regional politics The prophet Micah for example warned the well to do in Israel to stop pampering themselves What does the Lord require of you he asked but to do justice love kindness walk humbly with God Micah 6 8 A century later when Jeremiah stepped on to the scene things had gone from bad to worse But now some prophets made their living by telling the King of Israel what he wanted to hear This Babylonian threat not to worry A few years and it will all be over God is on our side Things will be just fine It seems in every generation politicians can find pollsters and advisors to tell them what they want to hear But Jeremiah was too upset with the deal making around him to keep quiet He challenged the government prophets of the day and questioned their credentials They are not men of God said Jeremiah Listen to them at your peril His message was about as popular then as it would be now Jeremiah was arrested for his efforts but he would not keep quiet And sure enough the Babylonians scored victory after victory against the Egyptians and against Israel first capturing booty and then taking prisoners into exile Today s reading is part of a letter Jeremiah wrote to some of those first captives taken off to Babylon Try to imagine how you might feel if you had been captured and shipped off to a foreign land How would you view your situation How would you view your new home in that strange land How would you be thinking about God Well Jeremiah doesn t flinch He offers no word of comfort He sees the defeat exile of Israel s people as God s judgement for their betrayal of God s covenant And he knows that people might not feel like saying thanks to God who had delivered them into the hands of their enemies So Jeremiah offers these words about life in exile Build houses and live in them Plant gardens and eat the fruit Get

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  • The world is knocking
    then is God like uh like a Jesus Is God like a feisty widow Yes Peter God is like that feisty widow who didn t give up God keeps knocking on the door of your heart until you wake up and see what needs to be done Peter Jesus Jesus Yes Peter Peter When the Son of Man comes do you think he will find faith on earth Jesus God will not give up on us God will keep knocking at your heart until you open the door uh Peter Peter Yes Jesus Jesus Where are you going Peter I just remembered my mother in law s neighbour has a door that s falling off its hinge I m going to fix it right now The world is knocking at our door Yesterday on World Food Day people around the world paused to reflect on food how scarce it is in some places and how much food prices have shot up there recently how plentiful food is in other places and how people often consume too much there Tonight we host an ecumenical conversation on food called Hunger for Justice because all around the world people try to balance the food supply and hungry appetites It s not an easy balance to achieve given unpredictable harvests in so many places and given the desire in the developed world to ask the developing world to grow food for us tomatoes bananas strawberries all those things we love to eat in January But when fields in hungry lands produce food for our tables children there often don t get enough to eat So the world comes knocking asking us to share asking us to pay fair prices and fair wages for the food we import asking us for help when crops fail and the cost of food goes through the roof if the hungry can afford a roof The world comes knocking And what will we say The world comes knocking again when poor and frightened people need a safe place to live Today we re showing a short documentary Seeking Refuge You ll hear the stories of four people who came knocking on Canada s door each from a different part of the world facing a different kind of danger These days Canadians don t know what to make of refugees Rather than greet them as strangers in need we tend to look on them with suspicion as if they re going to take advantage of us This summer a second boatload of Tamils from Sri Lanka raised many hackles But we should remember that between 85 and 93 of Tamils who made refugee claims in Canada in the last three years were granted refugee status That s double the average acceptance for refugee claims here The world comes knocking and before we slam the door Canada has agreed to hear the stories of those who come to listen carefully and critically so that those who truly need a safe place

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